JB's Top Links Of The Week

Jeff Bone jbone@jump.net
Mon, 27 Aug 2001 01:08:40 -0500

...top three links courtesy of Ken MacLeod by way of the RESTwiki,
thanks Ken...


There's something really interesting going on right now in our
industry.  There's this sort of dull roar developing in certain
backwaters of our community, a sort of backlash to the
geometrically-increasing "technological burden" of developing systems
for use --- or even using them --- across the Internet / the Web.
I'm hearing a general murmer of discontent, a sense that this
increasing complexity is bringing decreasing or even negative
returns...  this is a novel change to the recent memescape.

For most of the "boom," everything old was...  old.  Now, folks ---
me included --- are turning back and taking a look at some of the
stuff --- the thought, the discussion, the research, the
controversies --- that rocked our industry in different ways over the
last 5, 10, 15 years.  Or more --- even 20-30 years, considering the
reuse conversation that was triggered with Kernighan and Plauger's
publication of _Software Tools._  The meme is "SimplicityIsBetter."
The meme is "ItsNotAsHardAsYouWantToMakeIt."  The meme is
"TrivialReuse."  The meme is "ConstraintsAreGood."  The meme is
"GoWithTheFlow."  The meme is "AntiNIH."  The meme is

I'm really trying to get my head around it, but I'm hearing whispers
of it from all corners.  The Open Source "controversy" is just the
tip of the iceberg.  The REST discussions we've been having are a
part of it;  but it's also coming from other quarters, including the
UI / usability quarter, namely from Jakob Nielsen.  [1]  It's also
happening in the storage systems niches [4] in the OS niches [5] in
the system management niches, and so on.  It's happening in the
standards arena, as when Mark Baker steadfastly goes to bat to ensure
that future versions of SOAP don't presuppose a particular model of
use that's less general than it should be.  It's happening in the
programming language circles --- who needs another programming
language?  maybe all of us --- led by lunatics like Rebol's Carl
Sassenrath, [6]  Ruby's Matsumoto "matz" Yukihiro, [7] and even Guido
van Rossum and company.  (Odd that Python, while clearly evolving
faster than any other widely-accepted language, should play the role
of "old, established mainstay" in any group, hmm? :-)

The buzz is all about usability, at several levels.  It's about
adoption.  It's about end-user usability.  It's about code
reusability by developers.  It's about information ownership and
reuse.  It's about economic utility.  It suggests that despite the
tremendous success of the Web, we --- those of us in the industry
that create technology for use by others --- are still blinded
somewhat, still have our vision obscured by the tools we use.  It
says that we still design to the box rather than the user --- though
the box may be defined by a programming paradigm, by a language, by
RPCs, or object models, or servlets, or EJBs, or whatever else rather
than hardware.

Fascinating.  I'm anxious to see how the conversation develops.


Anyway, these are some good links, particularly the first three.
Props to Ken for turning me on to them...


[1] http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000723.html
[2] http://www.winterspeak.com/columns/082001.html
[3] http://www.goodexperience.com/columns/072600bitliteracy.html
[4] http://www.crn.com/Components/Search/Article.asp?ArticleID=27483
[5] http://www.namesys.com/whitepaper.html
[6] http://www.rebol.com/company.html
[7] http://www.ruby-lang.org/en/